What to wear to Egypt in April

Imagine mounting a camel, legs spread apart on either side, riding through Giza Plateau in a little blue dress and walking through a crowded souk (Khan Al Khalili) with young women fully covered staring at you and whispering amongst themselves.

When you think of Middle Eastern countries you probably think of desert and heat, and you would be correct.  So when I decided to finally visit a country I’ve always wanted to go, I wondered what to wear.  Since I live in Qatar now, I figured like most middle eastern countries it had a majority Muslim population.  This is correct but what people may not know is that there are also many Christians that reside there.   You are not required to cover your head or your entire body in Egypt, but it is respectful to be modest.

I traveled mid April for Spring break, April 11-15.  The weather was hot during this time of the year but mostly not oppressive in Cairo.   Luxor, however, was very hot especially on the west side where the Valley of the Kings is located.

Here are my suggestions of what to pack to wear for 5 days in Egypt:

Long, thin, black, maxi skirt (versatile and stylish, great for the plane ride)

2-3 pairs of neutral, light colored linen or 100% cotton pants (cool and comfortable)

3 cami’s or tank tops, black, white, tan (cool, small and easy to pack)

2 scarf shawls that you can wrap around your upper body (thin, airy, modest)

1 pretty cotton dress (lightweight and stylish)

Rugged Open toe sandals (safe and comfortable for all the walking)

1 white cotton button down shirt (versatile and modest)

1 pair of comfy sneakers

optional- a few pretty scarves for style and headwrapping

Besides toiletries, a pair of pajamas and undergarments, swim suit, cash, and electronics, this is all I packed.  Everything fit in one Victoria’s secret duffle bag.  I was comfortable the whole trip.  The pants worked out best because there was a lot of flies bothering my son, but I didn’t feel them.

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 11.58.42 AMI don’t like the way Birkenstocks look but they are of good quality and are very comfortable. Open toe sandals are better so that you can get the sand easily out of your shoes, and your feet won’t sweat with the heat.  Here is a pictures of the Birkenstocks I wore.

I took a pair of khaki colored linen pants and a pair of white and blue ombre linen pants and one pair of lyocell blue slacks.  I paired these with my tank tops and threw my shawl scarves on top, that I purchased at Bershka.

A white button down is a staple for traveling.  It can be worn with any bottoms, alone as a dress, as a cover-up or over a tank top like I wore mine.

Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 12.43.48 PMI saved my cotton dress for my tours in Cairo, which wasn’t the best idea.  Imagine mounting a camel, legs spread apart on either side, riding through Giza Plateau in a little blue dress and walking through a crowded souk (Khan Al Khalili) with young women fully covered staring at you and whispering amongst themselves.  I held my head high but inside I was saying, ugh, probably should have worn the pants today.  But it made for great pictures anyway.  I’m kissing the Sphinx in my dress.

 

The point is to travel light, especially if you’re going to travel between cities as I did. Pack cool material items that are ok to be worn wrinkled. Choose light or neutral colors and items that you can mix and match together.  Pack cover ups to respect the tradition of modesty.  Remember comfort over flashiness when packing for Egypt.

How to Survive a Year in a Long Distance Marriage

Living a part from your best friend and lover is not easy. You need a lot of patience. You need to have a goal in mind, that will make it all worth it in the end. You have to believe that it will work and work at it. It can be done!

When I accepted a teaching position in Qatar, I knew I would be pretty far from anything remotely familiar to me including my husband but I didn’t know I would be 6,770 miles away. I had never been in a long distance relationship and prayed that my relationship with my husband was strong enough that my marriage could survive.  I know that distance can make or break a relationship.  Well the first year of this long distance marriage is coming to a close and I am happy to say, our relationship is stronger because of it.  I will also add, HE IS WORTH IT!  Here is how our marriage survived a long year apart and perhaps these tips can help you too.

Make time for each other

Set a specific time of day, each day to spend together.  There was an 8 hour time difference between Philadelphia and Qatar, 7 hours during daylight savings.  When my day was coming to a close, his afternoon was just beginning.  When his was coming to a close, mine was just beginning.  So we always made an effort to speak before each of us went to bed.  Thankfully he worked from home 2-3 days a week, so some days we spoke a lot more often.  We would watch our favorite shows together.  We both had an Amazon fire Stick, so we were able to watch episodes simultaneously.  Back at home, we always had shows that were ours, that we only watched together.  So we stuck to that.

Technology is your friend 

We Skyped most times, video chatted on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.  Those long distance phone calls can really add up so make space on your phone, tablet and laptop for all apps that will allow you to talk free of charge.  We kept our Family Plan with T-Mobile when I moved but added the Simple choice plan which gave us free unlimited text messages while living overseas.  Also I purchased a Magic Jack before leaving the U.S.  With this, I received an American phone number and had the ability to call American phone numbers without extra charges.  This came in handy when Wifi didn’t work.  While technology is your friend, wifi is not always friendly.

Find an airline and a credit card you really like and stick with it

The amount of points you will get for visiting each other will add up and maybe you could even score free flights or other perks.  Right before I left for Qatar, I got an American Airlines credit card because they were offering 44,000 points after you spend $1,000 within 90 days.  I figured I wouldn’t use AA much while in Qatar but those points could be used when I came home for a trip for just the two of us or to fly him to visit me.  It didn’t take long to earn 55,000 and two free admission tickets to their Admirals club.  We will be using those tickets and points this summer to fly first class to Vegas.

My favorite airline to date is Qatar Airways.  The service is always top shelf.  The longer the flight the better the service.  Joining their privilege club has its benefits too.  I set up my account to include my food preference of vegetarian and when I am flying they always have separate food for me ready to go.  The flight attendants have always been nice, the entertainment on board is good, the food and drinks are free and you’re allowed 2 checked bags, a carryon and a personal item.  Sure you will pay more for their flights but with good reason.  Eventually if you use them enough, your club status will change and the perks will increase.

Schedule your visits

I missed my husband a lot, sometimes more than others, but scheduling his visits gave me something to look forward to.  Planning our time together was fun.  You can use countdown apps or a calendar to track the days until you are in each other’s arms again.

Create a ‘thing’

Each night before I went to bed, I sent Darryl a song.  I added all of these songs into a playlist called “For Him”.   It turned into my favorite playlist of all.   It is a good mix of songs that started with the song I walked in on on our wedding day.   I started sending him these songs as soon as we were on different continents.  After his first visit, I stopped sending them.  I thought it was just a small thing that didn’t hold much value.  That was until one day he said, “I guess you aren’t sending me any more songs” and I could hear the melancholy in his voice.  It was at that moment, I realized how much me sending these songs meant to him and that it was “Our Thing”.   Needless to say, I started sending them again.  So create a thing for your mate and stick to it.   One of my coworkers who is also in a long distance marriage says she and her husband often planned to eat dinner together while on the phone, or cooked together.  It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it is special between the two of you.

Here are a few songs from “For Him”:

Turning Page by Sleeping at Last from the Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Soundtrack

Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran

A Song for You by Donny Hathaway

I Miss You by Beyoncé

I Miss You by Adele

Your time is precious, don’t sweat the small stuff

The first time Darryl came to visit, we had been apart for three months. I guess within those three months I had grown kind of selfish.  He bought me some snacks from the U.S. that I missed, but he was eating them.  I got a little upset about this because he could eat these any time he wanted back home, but I could not.  The ones he brought with him was all I had and he was eating them.  I was so annoyed.  I snapped at him.  When he left, I missed him so much and I felt really bad about the way I treated him.   Another incident happened during that same visit.  I have a teddy bear that I sleep with that he purchased for me.  When he came into my bedroom, he moved it and when I said something to him about it, he threw it on the floor.  I got so upset with him.  The next time he visited, I moved ‘Blackey’ the teddy bear from the bed to the chair.  I didn’t get upset when he ate my American snacks.  I realized that on the last visit, I wasted time being upset over petty things.

Every couple has arguments and disagreements but when you live so far apart, every moment together is precious.  Don’t waste time on small stuff.   Just remember how much you miss him when he’s gone and all the petty stuff won’t matter.

Do some regular things together when he visits

The first time Darryl visited we took a trip to the Maldives.  It was so fun.  But the next time he came we stayed at my home in Qatar.  And that visit was even better.   Why? Because we got to do regular, married couple, every day things, that we don’t get to do.  None of our time was wasted on waiting on an airplane, or a whole day of traveling.  We had some real quality time together.  We watched our shows in the same room.   We had pillow talk.  We cooked together.  We shopped.  We spent hours upon hours in bed.  We went out to eat.  We visited friends.  He drove!  He went to work with me, met my students and read to them.  We went to the movies.  He went with me to get the car fixed, which was a big deal, because he got to feel like a husband again and I got to feel like a wife.  Visits don’t have to be big and elaborate to be special.

Find ways to show him, you love him

My hubby found the holidays specifically depressing.  I, on the other hand, was in a country that doesn’t really celebrate American holidays so it didn’t affect me in the same way because there weren’t decorations up everywhere or people celebrating.  My most depressing times were right after he left.  Anyway, it’s hard to send love through a phone, or celebrate holidays over 6,000 miles away.  But we both managed to find ways to show each other how much we loved one another.

A few weeks after Darryl left initially, I found a letter that he hid in the arm of one of my jackets.  It was a love letter that he wrote for me before he left.  On our anniversary, my son bought me a letter that Darryl had written and given to him to give to me on this day. The thought that he put into that made me teary eyed.  Darryl loves watches, so one day I ordered him one and sent it to the house.  He was so surprised.  These little momentos are everything.

Make the most of your alone time

I’ve never had a lot of friends or had to be surrounded by a large entourage so being alone was not new to me.  I actually enjoyed time spent with me, myself and I, so the thought of being without friends, and family didn’t really trouble me.  But it had been a long time since I had gone without companionship for more than 2 weeks.  In fact, I have been in relationships for the last 17 years with no significant lapse in between.   This indeed was different.

But I learned to enjoy my alone time.  I watched shows that I liked and ate out when I wanted.  I shopped without guilt or hiding bags.  I went out for drinks with new friends, without feeling guilty about leaving him alone.  I spent a significant amount of time sitting in silence, just being reflective and learning about me.  I traveled and spent way too much money.  I didn’t take up a hobby but I did get back into writing, this time by way of blogging.   I encourage you to take up a hobby or get back into something that you once enjoyed but that fell by the wayside because, well life happens.  Learn a new language.  Learn to play an instrument.  Go somewhere you always wanted to go but the two of you couldn’t afford together.  Next year, I do plan on learning Arabic.  I also intend to learn how to play the violin.  I’ve always wanted to play the violin.  I recently bought a membership to get back into yoga.  It’s a great way to relieve stress since my other stress reliever is so far away.  Make the most of your alone time and time spent making new friends.  Which brings me to my next tip…

Trust and Respect each others space

My life did not end when I left and neither did his, so what’s the point of getting upset when he decides to go out with friends instead of being on the phone with me.  Living apart is not easy; living over 6,000 miles apart is a challenge.   Give each other space.  Every free minute does not have to be spent on the phone talking to each other.

What is a relationship without trust?  I had to trust that when he went out, it was not to cheat, flirt or meet people.  It was for the same reasons I went out, to relieve stress and have fun.  It is so important to think positive or you will drive yourself crazy.  I remember this one time Darryl didn’t answer my nightly phone call.  All kinds of negative thoughts filled my head.  Did he have company?  Did he have a chick over? Is he ignoring my calls? When he finally called me, he said he was so tired that he fell asleep waiting for my call.  If a man is going to cheat, no amount of worrying is going to prevent it.  You will drive yourself crazy, worrying about what he is doing.  If you love your mate, trust them and respect their space.

Surround yourself with friends that have your relationship’s best interest at heart

I’ve met several females since I’ve moved overseas, some single, some married and their spouse is with them, some in a similar situation to mine, some newly divorced.   Who you choose to spend your time with is important.  In my experience, partying with single friends is never the best choice.  They know that you are married but they still say, “so and so has friends.” That’s nice, but what does that have to do with me.  Why even put yourself in that predicament?  One of the persons that I chose to spend the majority of my time with, I mentioned her earlier in this post, is in the same situation as me.  Her husband lives in Germany and she lives here.  I feel very comfortable telling her when I miss my hubby and she doesn’t hesitate to tell me when she misses hers.  We understand each other’s feelings.  Me and another girl clicked from day 1.  She and I started together.  She is married and her husband is here with her.  We became instant friends.  Our husbands are cool too.  I like hanging with her for several reasons but one of those reasons is that she loves her husband and keeps me on track.  Both of these girls have no problem telling me when they think I am wrong about my hubby and I like that.  They don’t try to steer me away or to meet other people.  They tell me I have a good husband and I better act right.

Darryl keeps a small circle too.  I am grateful for the few friends he has, who try to keep him busy and who check on him.

Living a part from your best friend and lover is not easy.  You need a lot of patience.  You need to have a goal in mind, that will make it all worth it in the end.   You have to believe that it will work and work at it.  It can be done!

My Blog’s Been Recognized

I am very happy to share that recently I received two awards for my blog.  I am both honored and delighted.  It’s not really a nomination because there is no vote between bloggers to see who wins.  The fact that I was recognized is an award in itself.  Even though I’ve had my blog for more than 3 years, I am still trying to figure out how people get their blogs featured on different websites and in news articles.  And 3 years may seem like a long time but if you have been with me from the beginning you will know that I took around 2 years off after my first ‘crash and burn’ try at teaching overseas.  I picked it back up once I reapplied and started the journey over.  Well receiving these awards makes me feel like my blog is being read and ‘Hey’, it must be pretty good. So I guess I will stick with it.  But really, here are the requirements for receiving these awards.

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This is my second Liebster Award! Keep ’em coming!

I was nominated by Expat Panda. <-Click here to visit her blog) THANK YOU!  She is a beautiful young lady from South Africa, who like me, is teaching overseas.  She is teaching in Kuwait and I love the little memes she post in her blog.  It is her signature and I’m so jeolous that I did not think of using those first.

My blog was originally started to document my steps to teaching overseas.  I used to write when I was a little girl.  I loved to write poetry and books.  I even had a poem published in a book years ago.  One day I will write some children’s books when life slows down for me.  I already have my characters and storylines in my mind. Anyway, back to the brief history of my blog.  The first time I tried to teach overseas I did not get the job(s).   You know the rest.  Now I am here in Qatar teaching first grade.  And my blog is all about learning and growing over here.  I discuss the steps to teaching in Qatar, life in Qatar, traveling and eating.  Some might say, my blog is a little personal, but it is.  I like it like that.

My advice to anyone considering blogging or just beginning, make a list, so you don’t forget. And…

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Don’t ask me what this has to do with blogging.  I just like it.  But on a more serious note, have fun with it, but keep in mind that Big Brother is always watching.  I go by this saying “When in doubt, do without”.

11 random facts about me

    1. I call myself a Pesca-Vegan because I mostly follow a vegan diet but I do eat seafood. SMH (I love it so much)
    2. I am afraid of flying but I love to travel
    3. I have a facebook group called “For Women Living with Alopecia”
    4. I write reviews
    5. My birthday is a big deal to me and I act like a spoiled brat in the month of August
    6. I hate wearing clothes, but I love clothes shopping
    7. I like my food piping hot and if it’s not, I’m not a happy camper.  In fact, I will send it back in a heartbeat.
    8. Trey Songz could get it
    9. I want to serve more, maybe volunteer in a hospital to help kids or feed the homeless
    10. I will live forever, at least I tell people that, because I wish I could.  I really do love life!
    11. My favorite movies are…

So Expat Panda has created these 10 questions for me to answer.  Here goes..

  • What is your favorite thing to photograph?

I love to photograph sunsets, sunrises and scenery.

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  • Which magical power do you wish you had while you were traveling?

It is difficult to choose just one, but I think I would love the power to teleport then I wouldn’t have to worry about the plane ride.  But, I’m cheating now, I could make a whole list of other powers I wish I had.  A second one would be to clone myself, so that I wouldn’t have to go back to work but remain on vacation while my clone worked for me.  Or maybe the power to expand and deflate my stomach so that I could eat all I wanted and not worry about getting fat. But then that would be unhealthy, so I don’t know.  How about you my readers, what power would you choose while traveling?

  • If we had a day to spend together in your hometown, what would we do?

That’s easy, we would eat cheesesteaks and visit historical sites.  Philadelphia has a lot of history.

  • Which TV show would you like to live in?

Sex and the City!  I crack me up! Thank God, she didn’t ask, which character I would be.

  • What is your “take all my money!” store?

Homecenter, TJMax, Target, Macys, Oh, I’m sorry did you say store or stores?

  • What food do you crave when you need comfort?

Sushi

  • What has been your most valuable failure?

Being told no by previous employers, it brought me here

  • What’s your favorite Disney movie?

BAM! Answered that already, see ^

  • What would you have told your 16 or 18-year-old self?

Go to college right after high school, it will save you time and earn you money faster

  • Tell the world the story of how and why you started your blog.

BAM! Answered that already too. See^

Now I have to nominate 11 bloggers that are deserving of this award and pose 11 questions to them.  But, unfortunately I don’t know that many bloggers that have less than 300 followers so I nominated a few that I think are deserving.

I have nominated you…

https://fiancevisauganda.wordpress.com/

https://nycteacherabroad.wordpress.com/

https://travelwithmeeks.wordpress.com/

https://beautyglossips.wordpress.com/

https://elizabeth8199.wordpress.com

…for the Blogger Recognition Award and the Liebster Award.  If you accept, here are your 11 questions:

  1. What is the title of your post that received the most views?
  2. What is your favorite place to visit in the whole world and why?
  3. If you were granted a redo, what would you use it for?
  4. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
  5. Describe your dream job? (You can make one up if you want)
  6. What are your pet peeves?
  7. Apple or Android?
  8. Who is your best friend and why?
  9. If you could spend one more day with someone who has passed, who would it be and what would you do?
  10. What are your hobbies, besides blogging?
  11. What do you love most about your life right now?

Congrats!

 

What Do You Buy a Little Qatari Girl that has Everything?

When I go back to American this summer, I plan on purchasing some little American trinkets and toys for my future students as well as some small classroom incentive items. If you plan on teaching overseas, might I suggest doing the same.

Last Thursday, one of my Qatari students, Helima (not her real name of course) invited me to her birthday party at her house.  It is not often that we teachers are invited to a Qatari home so it is good manners to accept.  They usually tend to stay to themselves.  BTW, I received the invite on the same day as the party. As I prepared to go, I started to worry, what do you buy a little girl that has everything, it seems.  It is no secret that Qatari people are pretty well off.  Back in the day, they lived off of Pearl diving and in tents.  That was until natural gas was discovered underneath them and then everything changed.  (Does this remind you of an old tv show?) Anyway, their government takes pretty good care of them now.

I dialed up a coworker of mine who has been here for a few years and has a lot of experience with the Qatari.  She reminded me that Helima is still just a little girl and all girls like girlie things.  I stopped in a store and purchased some headbands that would match her school uniforms and some pretty ballies (head barrettes).   I also threw in a coloring book that I had in my possession and some rainbow colored pencils.  The WhatsApp location that the little girl’s mother sent to me was in a location unfamiliar to me.  As I drove to find the residence, it began to get dark.  All I could see was brown land and sporadic palace looking homes.  This place was in the boonies and nothing was around but a WOQOD petrol station.  I called Helima’s parent to get clarity of the location and she said I was close and would resend the location, but of course there was no internet service so I didn’t get the message.  In the end, I turned around and found my way home.

By the time I reached home, the parent called me and asked where I was.  I could hear the disappointment in her voice and words.  Helima was really looking forward to seeing me.  I felt terrible.  But to be honest, I was so tired.  When I saw Helima at school, I apologized and gave her the gift bag.  The next day my heart melted.  Helima was wearing the headband and one of the ballies I gifted to her.   She wore the headband everyday that week.  I guess in the end, Qatari, American, rich, poor, it doesn’t matter, we are still people and generally like similar things.

When I go back to American this summer, I plan on purchasing some little American trinkets and toys for my future students as well as some small classroom incentive items. If you plan on teaching overseas, might I suggest doing the same.  It will come in handy, when you don’t know what to buy a little girl/boy that has everything or nothing.

Missing the Little Things While Overseas

I like living here in Qatar but there are some things that I really miss, that I never thought I would.  Before moving abroad take some time to enjoy some of your favorite things (outside of the obvious things like family, friends, etc…).  Here are some of the not so obvious things that I miss in no particular order.

  • The Kroc– a community center located in the north Philly section of Philadelphia.  It has a fitness center, pools, water park, chapel and more there.  My family and I went there at least once a week.  I frequented it more as my schedule was very flexible last year.  I attended several of the fitness classes: yoga, pilates, tabata, etc.  I enjoyed swimming laps and lifting weights there.
  • Sitting on my steps/front porch, enjoying a beer or glass of wine watching the cars go by.  My compound is small here and on a back street so we don’t get much action. This is a good thing and a boring thing.
  • Shopping at my favorite stores: TJ Max, Home Goods, Macys, Target. Oh how I miss you guys.
  • Corner stores: Wawa, 7-Eleven
  • The food- A few of my favorites: Little Delicious is a Caribbean restaurant located on Woodland Avenue in Philly.  It’s a hole in the wall but the food is so good.  I miss the curry goat, ox tails, rice and peas, cabbage and jerk chicken.  All The Way Live is a Vegan restaurant located in the Germantown section of Philly.  I found out about this place just before I left as I began to make the vegan transition.  It is owned by the mother of an associate of mine, it is true vegan food and it is delicious.  Atlantic Ocean Lobster and Snow crab legs, bought right from the market and home-cooked just the way I like it, by hubby himself.
  • My car, my sweet, red Valentine.  I recently paid it off and haven’t even driven it since.  That’s me and Valentine in the featured image above.
  • Hearing music blasting from the car next to me and blasting my own favorite jams as I cruise down the highway with my windows open enjoying the FRESH air (well fresher than here anyway)
  • The ease of knowing where everything is that I love and enjoy
  • Scenery- Everything looks the same here, brown, dry and dusty except for the buildings down town.  I miss the mix.  I miss going to the Poconos, getting a room and enjoying outside activities like the shooting range, ATV’s etc..
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ATV riding in the Poconos when an unexpected friend showed up
  • Road trips to another state- Without applying for a visa and driving to another country, there is no where to drive outside of Qatar.  In the U.S., the family and I would load of the car and hit the road.  We could be in another state in under 30 minutes.  It may not have been far but we felt like we had gotten away.
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A quick trip to the Beach with my family
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Another trip to the beach with family and my Zoey

I would love to hear from my readers: What do you miss about your home country or what do you think you will miss?

Seeing a Dentist in Qatar

The outside looks shoddy, like most places here, I would not go in, had it been in U.S.. But the inside was clean, again like most places here.

Before I moved here, I made sure to visit the doctor, the GYN, an optometrist and the dentist, because I wasn’t sure how these things worked here.  I could wait until I came back to the U.S. to visit them again and I would still be within a year.  I’m pretty regular with check-ups.  But things happen and all this eating has led to a cavity.  My friend, Jennifer, recommended a Dental office that she visited that wasn’t too far from my villa so I made an appointment.  Green Health Dental clinic’s location is Opp Dar Al Salam Mall, Mesaimeer road, Abu hamour, Doha, Qatar.  I called and had an appointment for myself and Zamir within 2 days, a weekend at that, at 5:30 pm.

The outside looks shoddy, like most places here, I would not go in, had it been in U.S..  But the inside was clean, again like most places here.

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We were seen and on our way home within 45 minutes.  The first visit was just to confirm I had a cavity and sensitive teeth, and Zamir needed a cleaning.  OK.  We made another appointment to return to get the services done.

On our next appointment only took 29 minutes.  As soon as we walked in we were seen. The filling was completed differently than in the U.S.  I am not a dentist so I can’t really explain how the procedure was but I didn’t get a numbing agent and I didn’t feel any pain.  Zamir said all the dentist did was clean between his bottom teeth and ‘Wala’.

For this visit I paid QAR 122 ($33 USD approx) and the remainder was billed to our insurance.  In all, the experience was very efficient and pleasant.  It perplexes me how quick some services are and how slow others are here.